Coronavirus: Prince William and Kate launch 'Our Frontline' to support key workers' mental health

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
William and Kate have long supported campaigns on mental health. (Getty Images)

Prince William and Kate have said they will make supporting the mental health of frontline workers their priority as the Royal Family adapts to the coronavirus outbreak.

The couple have already lent their voices to an NHS film which encourages people to formulate a plan to help them cope in isolation and lockdown.

Now, they have used the Royal Foundation to formally back a new initiative from leading charities and organisations to provide round-the-clock mental health support to everyone from teachers and nurses to bus drivers.

Called Our Frontline, will be a combination of one-to-one support and online resources for any NHS workers, carers, emergency services personnel and key workers whose psychological wellbeing comes under pressure.

Read more here: Duchess of Cambridge encourages charity staff to 'pull together' amid coronavirus pandemic

William, 37, said: “Over the past few weeks, millions of frontline workers across the UK have put their physical and mental health on the line to protect us all during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Every day, they confront traumatic situations at the same time as having to contend with their own worries about the risks to themselves and their families.

“That takes a real toll, and as I’ve seen for myself through my work with the air ambulance, without the right support at the right time, the challenges they face will only be greater.

“Catherine and I, together with the Royal Foundation, will do all we can to support Our Frontline. This work will be our top priority for the months ahead.”

It comes as more letters written by the duchess to her charity patronages emerge, including one to a children’s hospital.

Read more here: Coronavirus: Prince William and Kate lend voices to NHS mental health film as lockdown is extended

Kate, 38, wrote to Evelina children’s hospital in London to tell staff they were “truly inspirational” and to urge them to look after themselves.

She also wrote to Action for Children to tell them she knows they will have particular concerns for children at risk of abuse or neglect at this time.

Last week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge told the nation “we’re in this together” as they voiced the NHS mental health film.

Read more: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joke with teachers and pupils in first virtual royal visit

They have previously used their Royal Foundation to work on mental health projects, and Shout, the text messaging service they helped set up, is one of those involved in the Our Frontline initiative.

Mind, Samaritans, and Hospice UK are also involved.

The Duchess of Cambridge at a workshop run by the National Portrait Gallery's Hospital Programme at Evelina Children's Hospital. (Getty Images)

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Frontline staff and key workers can call or text a trained volunteer and access specially developed online resources, tool kits and advice to support their mental health.

The duke has experienced similar tolls on his mental health as doctors and other NHS staff, as he spent time working as an air ambulance pilot in East Anglia.

He’s previously spoken about how several traumatic emergencies involving children and having his own children “tipped me over the edge”.

But he said speaking to his crew helped him cope with the “enormous sadness” that he had witnessed.

Prince William was in the air ambulance for several years. (Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the duke will chair a roundtable with representatives from the emergency services sector and the NHS to learn more about the mental health challenges key workers face and how Our Frontline can support them.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “Every day, those working in health and social care, 999 services and other vital roles – staff working in supermarkets, pharmacies, transport, catering and cleaning to name a few – face huge challenges to their physical and mental health.

“That’s why it’s so important they can easily access information and contact trained advisers to help promote good mental health, any time of day or night.”